January 31, 2017 – Now that we are in the heart of tax season, “tax scams” are in full force! Scammers are constantly getting more and more creative when it comes to stealing your information, so it’s up to you to protect yourself by staying vigilant and staying informed. Below are some tips on how to detect or report tax scams:

RULE #1: Be extremely critical of ANY emails or phone calls claiming to be an employee of the IRS or state tax authority, especially those that demand immediate payment.

These governing bodies will NEVER:

  • Initiate contact with you by phone, email, text, or through social media outlets to ask for your personal or financial information.
  • Require that you pay your taxes with a certain payment type, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Call you and demand immediate payment. The IRS or State will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.

What do tax scams typically look like?

  • In these types of attacks, the scammer usually presents themselves as an employee of the IRS or State in a call/email to targeted individual, falsely stating they want to “help” with tax filing.
  • In more cases than not, this type of tax scam involves an unsolicited, bogus email regarding a tax refund or bill, or threatening an audit if the bill is not paid right away.
  • Tax scam emails typically include the tax service’s name and official seal, and often link to a phony website – in order to appear to be more official.

What can you do to protect yourself against tax scams?

1. If an email is received regarding federal or state tax returns/bills:

  • Don’t reply to the message.
  • Don’t give out personal or financial information.
  • Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov and then delete the email.
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links, as they may contain malicious code or virus that will infect your computer.
  • For tax scams involving a state’s filing office, check the office’s website to see how they recommend reporting an attempted attack.

2. If a call is received regarding federal or state tax return/bills:

  • Ask for a contact number and an employee badge number and then call back to verify its legitimacy.
  • Call the IRS or state tax authority to inquire further and verify the accuracy of the call.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page to report the incident.
  • Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission through the FTC Complaint Assistant on their website (add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments section).

For more information on how to detect or report tax scams, visit https://www.irs.gov/uac/tax-scams-consumer-alerts.